After a few months off, we are back!
To be honest, life was a little busy with school starting and finding the rhythm in the new schedule. Plus we had so many projects to tie up summer and autumn for winter. Then when I decided enough was enough, we need to write some more, my website had me locked out.
I won’t get into the logistics of it, because frankly I don’t understand it all. But, basically one portion of the website updated and the other one didn’t so it was not working properly. 🤷🏼♀️
That’s over with. The amazing team that helps run the website helped me fix it and explained how to handle it in the future.
To be honest, personal (not farm/homestead related) business has just been in the forefront of my mind. We have had a lot of ‘things’ happening here that took my mind away from the blog.
But enough is enough, time to get back into the swing of things because WE ARE BACK, BABY!
Once upon a time our house once sat on hundreds of acres of farmland, which was reduced down enough times to our ten-acre lot. Nothing to cry about, but also, not what it once was.
The city we live in has aerial views of our property throughout the years, and MAN have things changed. Even in the most recent years, it is very prevalent that sumac and sand willows have taken over portions of our fields. I was extremely disappointed that we let them get so bad. Such invasive plants taking over PRIME real estate for animals or gardens.
Sumac plants have little red berries that are VERY tart. With minimal research, I realized that these trees are one of the most anti-carcinogenic plants that exist, at least in this part of the world.
A plant that invades spaces and is seen as a pest is also providing anti-cancer properties.
I mean, c’mon!
I thought I missed the collection period of the berries, because the one field was all dried up and hibernating for the winter. I took the kids on a UTV ride around the property and noticed red in the distance. My granny eyes could not tell if they were leaves or berries, so we investigated.
By golly, these were BERRIES!
Now there are many ways to utilize the berries, but at the moment we were collecting the last of tomatoes and tying up the summer projects, moving onto winter projects. Life was busy. The most efficient way to use the berries at the time were to dehydrate them and grind them into a powder.
The powder was added to my greens mix that is added to smoothies for a vitamin/mineral boost, especially in the winter.
Just a little bit of research and I was able to ease my worries about the invading species and welcome it with open arms.
Not only was I able to harvest berries for myself, I offered some to my friend who is a breast cancer survivor. This life is all about sharing what we have – knowledge, resources, what-have-you.
Research, harvest, share.
Please Note: Edible sumac has RED berries, not white. It also has SMOOTH bark, not fuzzy. Please properly identify your sumac trees!
Luffas in Zone 4, For Real.
Luffa plants are known to grow in the HOT sun in an are with a long growing season. Well, I live in Minnesota. Basically the frozen tundra 9 months out of the year. Kind of, we are zone 4, so it is not as bad as SOME, but still… not known for luffa production.
I laugh in the face of danger, hahahaha.
Year one of growing luffa was a complete bust. I got a dill pickle size luffa that was not of use for anything.
Year two I got seeds from my aunt in California, and they sprouted in TWO days and were taking over my seedling trays in a week. These things were luffas on steroids.
I got them started and moved outside to my temporary green house which ended up tipping over.
Wah wah wahhhh.
I re-planted the luffas with very low hopes. Especially because the spring was SO wet and the weather was less than hot.
Much to my surprise, luffas were growing! We got three usable plants that dried and peeled and are actually functional luffas!
Three years ago I never knew you could grow your own luffa and now… now I grew my own successfully! Here’s to next year and having a more prolific luffa section that can be crafted as gifts.
As for this year, I have a natural scrubber cleaning all the dishes in the sink.
Spring Chickens lay... Beautiful Eggs.
Nine years ago we purchased our house.
I discovered a little building on our property was a chicken coop and decided to get chickens and ducks.
The ducks were the cute yellow ones at the feed store and I got chicks from a family member who also had a small coop. Nothing special.
Fast forward to discovering a world of colored eggs and designer chickens… Yup, designer chickens. I was on a mission to get the prettiest flock with unique feather patterns followed by a colorful egg basket.
This spring we purchased chicks that were supposed to lay an array of colored eggs and after some losses and tragedies, we finally made it out of the window of baby chick doom and into the waiting period for egg collection.
Every day the nesting boxes were collected and the brown eggs were placed into the basket.
Brown egg. Brown egg. Brown egg.
Until one day…
Brown egg. Brown egg. GREEN egg. WHAT?!
Our first spring chicken was laying eggs and it was not one of the brown egg hens, it was an OLIVE green laying hen. I was so proud and excited. Nobody in my family cared, but I was on cloud nine for a week!
Slowly our spring hens have begun laying, and slowly the egg cartons have been getting prettier and prettier.
This is not about instant gratification, but hard work, determination and a whole lot of patience.
New goal: breed my own beautiful egg laying hen.
Will there be Lambs?!
This is where life gets sensitive.
Our sheep have been placed together. AKA: our ram has been set up for breeding.
I have debated sharing this for such a long time. Honestly. It has been so hard for me to make a decision, but here it goes… the truth:
We placed our sheep together the first week I found out I was pregnant. Sheep have a gestation period of five months, humans take about nine months. Basic math will tell you that we would have our baby a few months after lambing. It seemed so ironic an comical, but also exciting.
I looked forward to helping little lambs enter this world knowing that I would be very much pregnant with our third child.
For me, that week was rough, bringing me to early ultrasounds, and eventually finding out we lost the baby.
It was a rough go and sparing you details, we are all in a better place now.
Was it easy? No, but we had support and took a lot of personal time, hence a huge reason I took a second consecutive hiatus from the blog (the first was due to it being down).
That is not what this section is about, but it ties in. This section is about our first round of lambs here at The Sheep Shed. Our ram was extremely excited and was welcomed by our white ewe, Liesl. The black ewe, Annette, was not having ANYTHING to do with the ram, Friedrich.
I began to worry.
We were planning on getting at least two lambs in the spring, and with the recent happenings, my trust in nature was not the highest.
I reached out to some sheep experts and asked…. is it possible for my ram to be denied by the ewes and discover in five months that we have NO lambs?! Do female sheep deny males like humans can in the human world?!
I have never had these thoughts…
Animals just procreate. That is what they do.
Chickens trot around our property procreating all summer. Even the children know that the rooster is doing his business.
But do sheep have more of a ‘free will’?
I was told that healthy ewes will eventually go into heat with the cold weather and accept the ram. It may be when we are not witnessing, but the only way to know if the deed has been done is to pay for an ultrasound or wait until spring.
I am putting all my trust back into nature and getting my praying knees calloused because I am waiting until spring.
Pray with me: The Sheep Shed sheep will bear lambs this spring.
One can only hope.
Quality Over Quantity.
This spring I went through our tiny wood shelter in less than a week while boiling syrup.
This year Aaron decided to build a larger wood shed.
Between spring syrup season and his newfound hobbies in the garage, we would need a bit of wood to get us through winter. I mean, not near as much as if we heated our house, but we are not there, we are here… heating our garage and boiling our syrup.
It has been apparent throughout the years that quality beats being ‘fast’ any day of the week. Doing a job to ‘get it done’ almost always ends in disappointment. Taking enough time to get a job done right vs. just getting something done pays off in the end.
However, we are still learning.
Aaron built a wood shed to ‘have a wood shed’. We sat with it on our property for a few days. It was small, it was done quickly. Was it efficient? Sure. Was it quality or aesthetic? Not really.
He tore it down and built a new wood shed. It was bigger than the first and would protect the wood better. Plus he stained it to match the new Sheep Shed 2.0 to add a tiny bit of cohesiveness to the property.
Hopefully this will get us through the winter and spring, and we can continue to add to it as needed.
Lesson learned: chopping wood gets you in shape, REAL fast.
So, there it is…
My back-to-back hiatus’ done.
Honestly, I have missed blogging. If I am being honest: I was not ready to share my truth. In my world, denying truth is also a lie.
I always have told myself this blog would be the raw truth of the farm and homestead life.
Sometimes personal life overlaps that.
Business here has been as usual, except with a lot of self-reflecting, and a lot of gratitude for what we DO have.
We have a beautiful family, we have a growing farm, we are constantly learning and growing.
Even when life gets us down, it us up to us to appreciate what we have. Most of us have a lot to be grateful for.
This week I am thankful for my aspiring lambs come spring, my colorful egg baskets, the beauty of a summer garden and all of the craftsmanship Aaron puts into the property.
Count your blessings, even if they seem low! This life is beautiful, and if we focus too much on the hardships, we will miss the flowers surrounding us!
If you ever have any questions, or ideas for future blogs, comment below or shoot me an email!
From the farm,